Automotive dealerships are accustomed to training sales and service professionals when new models arrive, but the plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt – and its pricey additional tool and equipment costs – is frustrating some low-volume retailers to the point of dropping the model from the showroom. A recent report says that a few discontented dealers have stopped carrying the innovative sedan because General Motors is requiring a more significant investment in the near future, and the specialized costs (in excess of $5,000) aren't offset by the model's slow sales at those establishments.
This time last year, Chevrolet had 2,614 stores certified to sell its Volt (out of 3,079 dealerships). A full 70 percent of the sales were generated by the 300 highest-volume dealers – leaving 2,314 dealerships to fight for the remaining 30 percent. Some of those non-metro stores, like Jim Barnard Chevrolet in Churchville, NY, have sold just five units in the past two years (they are understandably opting out).
Yet some dealerships, like John Holt Chevrolet-Cadillac in Chickasha, OK, are soldiering forward. Even though they have sold only five Volts since its introduction, the owners have chosen to make the investment as sales are on the upswing (Volt sales have more than tripled this year) and GM is introducing other plug-in hybrids with similar technology (Cadillac ELR) in the near future. "I figured I'd be foolish not to buy the damn $5,100 tool," said owner Holt.